Mayer Hawthorne’s Music Transports Fans Back to a Simpler Time
Every artist owes a lot to their musical influences, so naturally, it’s always great to pay tribute while adding a personal touch. Mayer Hawthorne perfected this technique through his repertoire of soulful music with a modern edge, and he does it all with a charming bravado that feels a little more genuine than his tuxedo-wearing contemporary, Justin Timberlake. Last week’s show at Philly’s Union Transfer gave fans a chance to see Hawthorne’s silky smooth tunes live.
Fans were lined up well before the show’s start and all you could hear was eager chatter, as they waited for the venue doors to open. Union Transfer’s high warehouse ceilings and brick walls provided the perfect setting for Mayer Hawthorne’s nostalgic sound, but first, opener Super Humanoids paid tribute to their own influences with a synth-heavy set of ‘80’s grooves.
Just before the anticipation reached its breaking point, Mayer Hawthorne raced to the stage to the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd. He stood under a glimmering cracked heart and fittingly repaid the audience with love, frequently moving to each side of the stage and holding the mic out for fans to sing along to his 20-song set-list. His impressive four-piece backing band really gave his music some more air, and they were on-point throughout the evening.
Hawthorne’s older songs still impress. They glow like soft neon light from an old jukebox. You can practically hear the crackle of vinyl on doo-wop tracks like breakout hit “The Walk” or the dreamy “A Long Time.” It’s the kind of music the crowd couldn’t help but move to, and they’ll surely be humming the songs for days afterwards (we told you so).
His newer material shows an artist evolving, however, as he adds more modern sounds to the mix. On his latest album (this year’s Where Does This Door Go), Hawthorne dabbles in his trademark soulful vibes and expands his catalog with cuts featuring the ubiquitous Kendrick Lamar, as well as a new penchant for Hall & Oates style tunes.
The crowd seemed to really take to his new material, which is definitely a great progression for an artist who’s gradually built a robust following. A few lucky fans got the greatest surprise of all during “Henny & Gingerale;” Mayer Hawthorne poured a few cups of the mixed drink for fans in the front-row, before singing the tune to the packed house. He really seemed to be having as much fun as the crowd, and that’s when you know it’s been a good night.
As the crowd filed out, it seemed as though everyone had uncontrollable grins on their faces. Hawthorne’s music is an escape to a bygone era, and if you close your eyes during his live show, you just might think you’ve been carried back to a simpler time.